Copyright and the Internet

Copyright and the Internet

Copyrighted material and the Internet have become a hot topic in the last few years. This is owing to the fact that computing in general has come on leaps and bounds. Today the internet has become a global matter, with household broadband being on par with that of bread, shelter and water. Copyright works are everywhere on the internet, gone are the days when we go to the shops to purchase the new CD from our favourite bands. These days we simply click a button and download the item. This however has lead to a problem for companies wishing to sell their copyrighted material on the internet ITunes for example offer the download at a cost but once that one person has paid then the spread of that CD on the internet begins. Sites like Pirate Bay offer the same download at no cost to the consumer. It is stated that 99% of all music downloaded on the internet is illegal at a cost of $12.5 billion dollars per year and 71,000 jobs just in the United States. It is also stated that the average iPod contains at least $800 worth of pirated music.

The question is how can we attempt to stop this?

Technical Barriers

Companies have used software to stop the spreading of such copyrighted material, the most famous being DRM, or Digital Rights Management. This meant that when you download a copyrighted work with this software on it you cannot transfer it to another computer. However this was very controversial as many people downloaded the music but were unable to transfer to their Mp3 players or make backups in case the files are lost. The latest public uproar to do with this area is with the new Xbox One, when Microsoft announced that you needed to have the internet on constantly to access and play any game. This caused an upheaval by consumers as not all consumers have the internet or live in areas where the signal fluctuates meaning problems for them especially after the large amount of money they paid.


Governments, under the pressure of large technology firms have tried to implement legislation for such as the WIPO treaty ensuring a little protection under the Copyright Act but due to the growth of the internet is almost useless, and rather sets out more of an ideal situation rather than a legal statute. In 2011 America released a bill called the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA for short. Reactions to this bill were enormous, with protests and service blackouts from the likes of Wikipedia, Reddit, an even Google claiming they collected 7 million signatures in protest of the act.

The internet is something much vaster than it was in the nineties when the legislation was first being brought in. These days copyright infringement on the internet is out of hand and will require a huge amount of work on the part of legislators and also of the firms that operate online in which to protect their rights. I can only predict that there will be opposition to future legislative bills like SOPA but it is very possible that in the process of ensuring the protection of copyright we end up with a Orwellian culture similar to that of Big Brother.

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